Archive for December, 2008

How do you Like your Lies for Breakfast?

A good friend of mine posted this link on facebook. It is an essay by Paul Graham about the lies adults tell children about the world in order to raise them from childhood to adulthood. It reminded me a lot about my constant battle with the ambiguities of postmodern parenthood.

I remember an event some years ago, when I was still an angry teenager. I had just been beaten up for no reason by strangers for the first time. I was growing more and more bitter with the world, moving further away from the open hearted tree-hugging country girl I had been. Dismayed at the realisation so many people seemed irrevocably evil, I asked a similarly  jaded friend whether she thought we would be better off telling our children the truth about the world so that they would be tougher early on. And she said ‘No. I think we should let them have their dreams.’

This was a long time ago but I still remember it vividly. And now as a mother I agree with her. The only difficulty is determining just how much wool parents should pull over their children’s eyes before they cross the line between protecting them and harming them.

Scum of the Earth!

I know I haven’t been on the blogosphere for a few days, and that’s been due to a combination of lack of inspiration and feeling like I’m running to stand still. My life hasn’t been a great source of wonder and amazement over this week and I didn’t feel any great urge to communicate. So far, so good.

 

And then I went out last night to the Rhythm Factory in Whitechapel and had a lovely old time with my friends. I walked to Aldgate East station and had just missed the last blimmin’ train. So got nightbus. Got off nightbus. Walked towards my home. All I was thinking is ‘Aaaaaah nearly home, nearly home’. I turn a corner, 30 seconds away from my front door and then BAM!

 

A guy wrestles me to the ground and grapples for my handbag. My blood boils. I resist, start kicking and screaming, trying to get him off me. I get punched and kicked in the stomach. He takes the bag. I run after him, screaming GIVE ME MY FUCKING BAG YOU FAAAAAAAAKIN CAAAAAAAAAAAANT. He jumps into a waiting car in the middle of the road. Speeds off with my precious belongings.

 

I run home with cuts and bruises and anger and tears. Absolutely livid.

 

And what for? Nothing. I had a fiver. My bankcards, cancelled. My mobile phone, blocked.

But to me this will cost a fortune: My make up bag’s contents were probably worth in excess of £100, my keys cost £20 to replace, I might need a new front door lock, a new handbag, a new purse, a new phone.  My credit cards won’t arrive until after Xmas so I can’t buy presents.

 

And I wonder how he feels now that he realises he just beat up a girl for her fucking lipstick?

Woolworths is Dead, Long Live Woolworths!

Not being English, I did not expect to feel a pang of sadness for the demise of the British high street’s den of tackiness, otherwise known as Woolies. Nevertheless I was shocked to see this shopping staple credit-crunched into liquidation. On one hand, I might have made the divination long ago while perusing through aisles and aisles of badly designed useless tat, yet on the other I feel like a garish rug has been pulled from under my feet.

 

Who will fit into this Woolworths-shaped emptiness? Will Boots or WH Smiths step in and start selling branded toys and fluorescent jelly sweets? Will you get tatty kiddies’ fancy dress costumes in your local M&S? Will some shrewd entrepreneur who hasn’t been smashed to smithereens already pick up the slack and bring us the shiny, new, improved Silkworths?

 

Well, today I went to see the apocalypse for myself. My local Woolies full to the brim with discount-hungry shoppers with the greedy eyes of looters in a riot. Boxes torn, toys on the floor, my toddler almost getting trampled on by the stampede. We were like vultures picking at the baring bones of a tinselled spectre. Mile long queues allowed me to take a closer look at the size of the retailer’s desperation: On some of the shelves I found fading Christmas stockings inscribed with the words: ‘Baby’s First Christmas 2006’. I am serious. Even their website seems to have given up.

Ironically, though, the economy’s collapse means that this year my son will get better Xmas pressies! For example, I got a JCB toy workbench and tools, reduced from £59.99 to £29.99. And I got him a wicked little keyboard for £20,00 (encouraging those musical genes: tick). If you’re reading this now, I’m afraid you probably missed the boat. I’ve heard reports of Woolworths outlets being stripped down to their last 10% off packets of Maltesers.

 

Where will we go now to indulge our longing for all that is tasteless and twee?

Up Shit Creek Without a Parenting Book.

I know I keep alluding to postmodern parenthood, with its joys and pitfalls, and you must be wondering what I’m yakking on about.

I’ll explain: 

Gone are the days of the Grand Narratives. The lines between male and female roles are finally blurred. In fact, even the line between genders is blurred. The line between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’  shifts from whichever perspective you choose to look at it. Every ideology has its crack, thank God. But I don’t even know if I believe in God. Isn’t it great? You can decide what you want to believe in.

 

And then you have a kid.

 

Suddenly your world is turned on its head and you desperately need to find your bearings.

 

 

The first role that generally comes into play is the traditional, patriarchal family. Mummy dearest reigns supreme within the confines of her immaculate house. Daddy comes home from the office at night to a home filled with the delectable aroma of hot food, and smiling children with impeccable table manners throw their arms around him and say Grace before tucking in. Even today there is something aspirational about this image, but when you start zooming in, the whole thing begins to unravel.

 

Well, for starters, who is mummy dearest? Me, that’s who.

 

And I am currently under enforced domestic incarceration(i.e. unemployed). I love cooking though, and if Daddy dearest dares suggest I overcooked the broccoli, he gets a slap round the face. In the rare occasions I manage to get my house to look immaculate, it only lasts for five minutes. I am MESSY. I wasn’t made to be a housegirlfriend for prolonged periods of time.

 

And don’t get me started on the kid. He’s the biggest conundrum of them all. All these different schools of thought:

 

There’s the foodie brigade, who say the key to bringing up kids is to slave over the oven and feed them nothing but organic everything, even if the only thing the bloody child will eat is packet noodles with fish fingers.

There’s the Gina Ford brigade, who chastise the soft-hearted mother that cannot bear to let her newborn baby scream itself to sleep for two hours straight, and demand that she runs her life rigidly by the stroke of the clock, no excuses.

There’s the religious brigade, who will avert their eyes at my lovechild and fear I’ve chained him to the gates of Hell.

There’s the middle-class, middle-aged mum in Wandsworth brigade, who treat me as if I were the nanny.

There’s the paragon of virtue brigade, who spend their days pulling flashcards out of their pockets, looking on serenely while their angelic children garner ridiculously high I.Q.s that will doubtlessly make them future World leaders.

There’s the… uh, you get the picture.

 

 

WHO IS RIGHT? No one is completely right, so I should be happy to find my way and muddle along, right? There is no right, there is no wrong, right?

WRONG. The Karen Matthews school of parenting is definitely wrong.

 

NOW FOR A LITTLE ANECDOTE:

I took my son to the supermarket yesterday. I thought I was doing ok. He only ran off a little bit, and kept coming back for me. I went to the till, basket in hand. He then runs off behind a corner, I run after him, customers start looking pissed off, I drag him back, impatiently.

 

With absolute composure, the woman behind the till commands him to come back and stand next to mummy, that’s it, what a good boy, wait until mummy is finished, well done, what a good, good boy, here you go, have a green plastic coin. He looks on, sweet as an angel, and starts naming the items cutely as she packs them in a bag.

 

Thanks, I mutter under my breath. I feel crushed. An absolute stranger has a better grip on my child than I do. I am a TERRIBLE mother.  I undoubtedly have been lax with his discipline. Those of you who know me personally will laugh at the thought of be taking on the role of the stern disciplinarian. And why would I want to be a stern disciplinarian? But then, what if I’m raising him to become a hellraising thug? Am I condemning him to getting an ASBO? Should I start taking him to church? I want to be a good mum!

 

Can someone tell me the way? Please?

Andre Jordan Strikes Again. (bastard).

Eskimo Woe: A tale of despair, isolation, global warming, urban deprivation and chilly willies

E1
Eskimo Woe (2)

E2

Eskimo Woe (3)

E3

Eskimo Woe  (4)

E4

Continued on http://www.abeautifulrevolution.com/blog/weird_stuff/index.html

Not that he needs any more advertising or anything. ‘All art aspires to the condition of music’ and all that. He doesn’t need any more advertising, but you might like his stuff, IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY HEARD OF HIM.                       

   *note to self: must try harder*

That Cold-Hearted Tyrant, the Yummy Mummy.

Oh, postmodern parenthood, where do you eclipse those enduring voices of Capitalism and Mysoginy?

Although not all of us professional housegirlfriends and wives will experience these issues with such intensity, I have found an article that examines what appears to be a new cultural phenomenon, but to me is just yet another case of old wine being poured into shiny new bottles. This is all rather serious brain-grinding, folks, so if you were looking for a bit of ha-ha-ha-ha today instead, I suggest you look here.

Now, if you’re feeling a little like you’ve been failing miserably in your tireless pursuit of the Joneses, have a look here.

Kid’s Rock

Finally a solution for not being able to get children’s music out of my head! (The ‘Peppa Pig’ theme tune is a particularly horrible one to get stuck on).